Holiday Hopes

Josh Zbytniewski Josh Zbytniewski

Make a difference in the life of a child this holiday!  

Sponsor a child at The House through the Holiday Hopes Gift Campaign.

For most, the holidays are a time for celebrating with family, writing notes to Santa, being dazzled by silver bows and twinkling lights, or falling asleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in your heads. For our kids, a simple wish or hope may have never been answered. They may have never received a holiday gift that they wanted more than anything else.

There are 400 children at The House that hope their wishes will be answered this holiday. We ask for your help.

Sponsors are matched with a child at The House of the Good Shepherd. They then become that important person who answers that child's personal holiday wishes. Wishes fit within the $25 and $85 level, or you can sponsor a family in need. Often groups decide to help children or families in lieu of a gift exchange at work.

If you would like to donate a monetary gift to Holiday Hopes, you can do so through our secure online donation site. Click here to donate now.


Josh Zbytniewski used to muse, "What's on my mind? Cold air, snowboarding, and powder on the mountains." Josh was only 20 years old when he tragically died in an accident earlier this year. For as young as Josh was at the time of his death, he had an undeniably old soul. His free-spirit led him to the mountains of the Adirondacks quite often - spring, summer, autumn - and especially winter, when he loved to snowboard and spend time with his family and friends.

See, Josh was a free spirit with a heart as pure as the Adirondack snow and as big as the mountains he used to summit. Josh understood the plight of the less fortunate and concerned himself with helping families, sons, and daughters out of their troubles. His family and friends understand this kind nature of Josh's better than anyone. He used to send random texts or leave little notes behind to encourage them to smile and believe that today is brighter than yesterday.

This winter, Josh's spirit lives on in the kids at The House of the Good Shepherd - in Josh's memory, the kids can find happiness and peace. Josh once wrote, " If humanity gives up on human nature as a whole, we already lost. We need to believe to achieve and succeed. We need to protect the innocent." The innocence of children must be protected. The House never asks, "What is wrong with this child?" Instead, we ask, "What has happened to this child?"

This holiday, Josh's family ask that you remember his spirit and his wish that everyone have peace and love in their lives. Josh was loved by many! Share that love by donating to the Holiday Hopes Gift Campaign- SPIRIT OF JOSH FUND. The Spirit of Josh fund is dedicated to changing children's lives by encouraging health, wellness, and activities. 100% of your contribution will directly support the Spirit of Josh Fund.


Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below are some frequently asked questions regarding Holiday Hopes:

What gifts do the children ask for on their wish lists?
Each child completes a wish list with the help of a staff member. Wish levels are: $85 (Residential children), $25 level (Children in Foster Care) and $25 level (Bridges 2 Health children or Program Wish.)

You should receive your child's wish list in the mail by November 19th. If there are questions, please call Lee at 315.235.7772 or email

What is a Program Wish?
A Program Wish is a gift that children share at their program sites such as board games, DVDs, arts and crafts, or personal items like lotion sets for girls and wallets for boys. (Please call and inquire about these items.)

What if I want to purchase one big gift for all the children to share? 
Sure! A gift that children share at their program sites such as a TV, DVD player, PlayStation, Wii, and Xbox are always something the children love! (Please call and inquire about these items.)

What if I would like to help, but I can't shop?
You can still participate with financial support. We will designate a shopper to purchase gifts for a child with your sponsorship.

What if I said I would sponsor a child, and I can't complete the shopping?
Please call 315.235.7772 to tell us as soon as you know. Only one sponsor receives the wish of a child. We don't want to disappoint any of the children. Please alert us so we can make alternative arrangements.

What about a note for the child?
We encourage sponsors to write a note to their child. A note can be a simple greeting or an explanation of why you chose to be a sponsor. It's an extra treat for a child to receive a note and discover that a total stranger is choosing to make his or her wishes a priority.

Should gifts be wrapped?
Please do not wrap your gifts. We must check each gift for accuracy and safety. 

Should I include the gift receipt and the child's wish list with my gifts?
Yes, please do. This assists us in recording your generous support and correctly identifying the gift. You can also receive a receipt for the value of your gifts.

When & where can I drop off my gift? 
Gift drop-off dates will start on December 7th through the 16th at the Development & Communications office located at 620 French Road between the hours of 11:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday.

For more information, please call Leila (Lee) Bjornland, Director of Development and Communications, at 315.235.7772 or email

Thank you from all the children at The House of the Good Shepherd who will have a holiday to remember because of you!